From the very earliest days of its history, Thailand has been a land of fish and rice. A vast network of inland waterways covers the country and, although seafood is a comparatively new addition to the Thai diet, freshwater fish has been a part of it for ever. An inscription on an ancient stone tells how the happiness of man can be measured by the abundance of fish and rice, and it's said that, even today, country folk, living easy-going lives, judge their contentment thus.
- 5 dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons shallots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1" root ginger, peeled and grated
- ½ teaspoon kaffir lime peel
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (available from Asian supermarkets or specialist food-stores)
- 1 lb raw prawns
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
Put the chilies and salt in a mortar and grind with a pestle until fine. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, lime peel and coriander seeds. Grind again. Add the shrimp paste and mix well. Alternatively use a liquidiser.
Deshell the prawns and pop them into boiling water until they're almost cooked.
Heat some oil in a wok. Add the curry paste and stir fry over a medium heat for 1 minute. Add the coconut cream and bring to the boil. Add the coconut milk and stir well while bringing to the boil. Add the prawns and complete the cooking. Check the seasoning and add fish sauce and sugar to taste. Serve sprinkled with lime leaves.
- 3 cups fish stock
- 1 tablespoon lime zest, grated
- ¼ cup lemon grass, very finely chopped
- 1" root ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- The green bits of 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-2 red chilies, finely chopped
- 2" root ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 lbs mussels well-rinsed
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
- ½ cup tomatoes, diced
- ½ lime
- Fish sauce
To make the broth, place the first 7 ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup. Strain and set aside.
Put some oil in a wok and stir fry the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chilies for a minute or two. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the broth, cover and heat again for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, coriander and tomato and mix well. Heat through making sure all the mussels have opened properly. Discard any that haven't.
Add a squeeze of lime juice and a splash of fish sauce, stir and serve immediately, garnished with chopped coriander.
Thai Prawn Curry
WARNING: This is very hot!
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced, and finely chopped
- 20 dried red chilies
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 3 cups coconut milk
- 1½ - 2 lbs prawns peeled
- Fish Sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice
- coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
Place the onion, shallots, garlic, lemongrass and 3 chilies in a mortar and grind to a fine paste with the pestle. Alternatively you can whiz them together in a food processor.
- Add more chilies to this paste for a hotter dish.
Heat some oil in a wok and add the ground paste and the curry paste. Stir fry for 5-10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the remaining chilies. Bring to the boil and add the prawns. Simmer gently for about 5-6 minutes or until the prawns are pink and cooked. Add the fish sauce and lime juice to taste. Serve immediately garnished with coriander.
You can prepare the curry sauce in advance up to the point where you add the coconut milk. Allow it to cool and store in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the dish.